On a cross-country train trip, an upper-middle class woman makes a strange connection with a pregnant teenager. Lori is an editor, and she is working on a particularly tiresome manuscript when Exley barges into her train car looking for drugs.
Exley is about three months pregnant, and she is mad as all get-out that her boyfriend Morris hasn’t met her on the train like he promised. Exley is obviously drunk, and the other passengers are afraid of her. When no one produces drugs for Exley, she pulls out a nail file that she calls a knife to threaten the passengers, and someone calls the conducter.
The conductor knocks Exley to the floor of the train, and then handcuffs her to the seat across the aisle from Lori. They start talking about Morris, who seems to let Exley down quite a bit. Lori has an unexplainable respect for Exley, despite Exley’s barrage of verbal abuse.
When Lori hands Exley an aspirin, she notices Exley is bleeding. She asks Exley if she might be having a miscarriage, but Exley claims she’s fine. Exley refuses all of Lori’s entreaties to get help, and she keeps bleeding. They make small talk about Lori’s job and their mutual lack of conviction about god.
Lori tells Exley that the only thing she believes in is luck, and she wishes Exley luck, feeling crappy as she says it. She realizes that their worlds are so different, there isn’t really anything Lori can do for Exley. Eventually, Exley has lost so much blood she passes out.
At the next stop, paramedics and police rush onto the train to take the unconscious Exley to the hospital. Lori tells them that she thinks Exley is suffering from a botched abortion. She asks a paramedic to call her at her hotel and tell her what happens to Exley, but no one ever calls.
When she gets to California, Lori has a dispassionate affair with a man she doesn’t really like. Despite the fact the man claimed to have a vasectomy, Lori discovers she is pregnant a few weeks after she returns home. She wonders what happened to Exley and if it is possible she could be carrying the reincarnation of Exley’s baby.